CAIRO — Egypt’s military said Friday that parts of the missing EgyptAir flight 804 jet had been discovered in the Mediterranean, about 180 miles north of the Egyptian coast — close to the area where the plane disappeared from radar early Thursday morning.
The Egyptian army confirmed the discovery in a statement posted on social media, but the airline made no immediate comment.
The statement said Egyptian aircraft and Naval vessels had “managed to find some of the passengers’ belongings as well as parts of the plane’s fuselage in an area 290 kilometers north of Alexandria. Search efforts continue, and rescue teams are collecting whatever objects that are being found.”
An Egyptian military spokesman also confirmed the discovery of passenger belongings separately to CBS News.
CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports that search teams from Egypt, Greece, the U.S. and France were scouring the Mediterranean Sea again Friday for wreckage, and for any answers as to what brought the Airbus A320 down.
The plane was at its normal cruising altitude in Greek airspace when, sometime after 2 a.m. local time on Thursday, something catastrophic happened. Greek radar shows the plane turning abruptly 90 degrees to the left, then swinging through a tight 360-degree circle to the right, all while “dropping like a rock,” according to one official.
Then it completely disappeared off the radar.
On Thursday there was hope that photos posted online by a merchant ship’s captain showed debris from the passenger jet, and EgyptAir even confirmed wreckage had been found, but that later turned out to be incorrect.
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi told CBS News he has strong suspicions that terrorism is “most likely the case.” But he cautioned that it was just his own personal view, “not a statement on behalf of the Egyptian government.”
As Williams reports, it’s been a disastrous year for Egyptian aviation.
In October a suspected bomb brought down a Russian MetroJet airliner here, killing all 224 people on board.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS later claimed responsibility. The terror group has an active branch in Egypt’s volatile Sinai Peninsula.
Then in March a hijacker forced an EgyptAir passenger plane to land in Cyprus, though his suicide belt turned out to be a fake.
In Cairo yesterday, family members who’d been waiting for their loved ones to return, instead learned that they’ll never come back.
“I want to know where my son is,” beseeched one man “what’s the government doing?”
By: CBS News May 19, 2016
NEW YORK — Despite multiple layers of security at airports, terror groups in North Africa and the Middle East are obsessed with targeting planes.
Nearly 15 years after 9/11, terrorist organizations remain fixated on attacking the West and its allies by crippling commercial aviation.
There was the 2010 failed attempt by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to blow up U.S.-bound cargo planes with bombs embedded in printer cartridges.
Last year ISIS claimed a soda can bomb with a detonator and a switch had downed the Russian metrojet plane over Egypt in February.
The terrorist group Al Shabaab was suspected of planting a bomb in a laptop blowing a hole in this jetliner shortly after it took off from Mogadishu, Somalia.
A month later, another laptop bomb shattered windows when it exploded near a small Somali airport.
U.S. officials say that given terrorists’ obsession with aviation, it’s possible they could be behind what happened to EgyptAir flight 804 early Thursday.
The EgyptAir jetliner was en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard, when it swerved wildly in flight and crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, authorities said. Egyptian and Russian officials said it may have been brought down by terrorists.
“It raises my suspicion level … that it was something other than a mechanical,” like an explosive, said John Halinski, former deputy administrator of the TSA. He says that terrorists have been doing their homework.
“They understand our tactics, they study, they study the security policies of the TSA and other organization… a device planted on the inside of an aircraft at the right location with a timing device that is conceivable. That is not that difficult to do, especially if you’re looking at locations that don’t have as what you would define as the top security in the world.”
U.S. investigators have been scanning social media and other sources for claims of responsibility, but so far there seem to be no signs of boasting.
By: Associated Press May 19, 2016
CAIRO (AP — An EgyptAir jetliner bound from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard crashed in the Mediterranean Sea early today after what authorities call a mysterious series of extremely abrupt turns.
Egypt’s aviation minister says it may have been a terrorist attack. There are no immediate signs of any survivors.
EgyptAir Flight 804 was an Airbus A320 carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew members. It went down about halfway between the Greek island of Crete and Egypt’s northern coastline after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Greece’s defense minister says the plane spun all the way around and suddenly lost altitude just before vanishing from radar screens around 2:45 a.m. Egyptian time.
In Cairo, Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi cautioned that the disaster is still under investigation. But he said the possibility it was a terror attack “is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure.”
Those on board, according to EgyptAir, included 15 French passengers, 30 Egyptians, two Iraqis, one Briton, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Belgian, one Algerian and one Canadian.
Egyptian military aircraft and ships are searching for debris and victims from the plane, whose passengers included two babies and a child. Greek, French and British authorities also joined the operation.
By: CBS News May 19, 2016
CAIRO, Egypt (CBS News — An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo carrying 66 people disappeared from radar early Thursday morning while over the Mediterranean Sea, the airline said.
Egyptian and Greek officials said the plane crashed and the search was underway for debris.
Egyptian aviation officials told The Associated Press the “possibility that the plane crashed has been confirmed,” as the plane hasn’t landed in any of the nearby airports. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
The Egyptian Aviation Ministry, however, later said it was too soon to declare a crash, and that the plane was officially missing.
The director of Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority said air traffic controllers were in contact with the pilot of EgyptAir Flight 804, an Airbus A320, as it passed through Greek airspace.
The director, Constantine Lyzerakos, told private Antenna television that controllers tried to make contact with the pilot 10 miles before the flight exited the Greek Flight Information Range (FIR, but the pilot did not respond.
Lyzerakos said controllers continued trying to contact the pilot for about 10 minutes, until 3:39 a.m. Greek time (8:39 p.m. Wednesday, Eastern time when the plane disappeared from the radar in Egyptian airspace. EgyptAir said it disappeared about 175 miles off Egypt’s coast, north of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
The Reuters news agency cites a Greek defense ministry source as saying authorities were investigating an account from the captain of a merchant ship who reported a “flame in the sky” some 130 nautical miles south of the island of Karpathos.
Greece’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that it had sent two military aircraft and a Navy frigate to the area south of Karpathos to join the search, and that two Super Puma helicopters based on the island were also ready to help, according to French news agency AFP.
“Right now we have to find where this aircraft is,” former NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker told CBS News, explaining that once that was accomplished, the focus of the search would turn quickly to the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders — the so-called “black boxes.” Those instruments should contain information to help investigators determine what brought the plane down.
Rosenker, a CBS News transportation analyst, noted that whatever caused the plane to disappear happened at cruising altitude — about 37,000 feet, and “very, very few accidents occur at that altitude, about 10 percent.”
Rosenker described the Airbus jets, which are used widely across the globe, as “solid aircraft, workhorses in the industry.”
Heading into a crisis meeting at the airport in Cairo on Thursday, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail was asked whether it was possible to rule out a terroist attack.
“We can neither rule out or confirm any hypothesis at the moment,” said Ismail. “We must first complete all the search procedures.”
The Airbus A320 in question flew earlier Wednesday from Cairo to Paris, and before that also made a stop in Tunis, Tunisia.
CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips notes that French authorities have tightened airline security since the terrorist attacks on Paris. Not only passengers, but anyone who gets near a plane in the French capital goes through screening, and people have been dismissed for security reasons.
The big question now, says Phillips, is whether somewhere — be it in France, Egypt or Tunisia, security measures failed.
An EgyptAir official told The Associated Press that Egypt’s Armed Force’s Search and Rescue unit had received a distress signal from Flight 804’s emergency equipment at 4:26 a.m. local time, but again, Egyptian officials later denied that claim, saying the information had been relayed prematurely.
Egyptian armed forces were searching for the plane, which was carrying 56 passengers, including one child and two babies, and 10 crew. The pilot had 6,000 flight hours. Earlier, the airline said 69 people were on board.
EgyptAir said there were 15 French passengers, 30 Egyptians, one Briton, two Iraqis, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi, one Sudanese, one Chadian, one Portuguese, one Algerian and one Canadian on the flight.
Airbus said the missing Egyptian plane was delivered to EgyptAir in 2003 and had logged 48,000 flight hours. The European plane-maker said in a statement Thursday that the plane had engines made by Swiss-based engine consortium IAE, and had the serial number 2088.
Airbus said it was ready to help authorities investigating the disappearance and said “our concerns go out to all those affected.”
Family members of passengers on board the missing flight arrived at the airports in both Cairo and Paris.
Reporters gathered in front of the small, empty EgyptAir counter at Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle Airport. Airport staff said EgyptAir staff were on their way.
France remains under a state of emergency after Islamic extremist attacks killed 130 people in November. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS continues to threaten France and Egypt, where it is known to operate in the volatile Sinai Peninsula.
Greece joined the search and rescue operation for the EgyptAir flight with two aircraft: one C-130 and one early warning aircraft, officials at the Hellenic National Defense General Staff said. They said one frigate was also heading to the area, and helicopters are on standby on the southern island of Karpathos for potential rescue or recovery operations.
An EgyptAir plane was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus in March. A man who admitted to the hijacking and is described by Cypriot authorities as “psychologically unstable” is in custody in Cyprus.
The incident renewed security concerns months after a Russian Metrojet passenger plane was blown out of the sky over the Sinai Peninsula. The Russian plane crashed in Sinai on Oct. 31, killing all 224 people on board. Moscow said it was brought down by an explosive device, and the local ISIS branch claimed responsibility for planting it.
In 1999, EgyptAir Flight 1990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, killing all 217 people aboard, U.S. investigators filed a final report that concluded its co-pilot switched off the autopilot and pointed the Boeing 767 downward. But Egyptian officials rejected the notion of suicide altogether, insisting some mechanical reason caused the crash.